Re: I just bought an Alpha. Now what?
I've got an AS200 myself, and I think I can give you a few useful
bits of info.
First of all, you WILL need a null modem cable and a serial
console. I use SRM at the moment to boot MILO off the floppy (I can't
stand ARC) but under either console the moment you start MILO the screen
goes bright green and you can't see what you're typing. MILO doesn't know
about the DEC video card that came with the system. With the serial
console, you can deal with this just fine. In SRM, you don't need to do
anything special...just have the cable connected, run minicom or whatever
at 9600 8N1 on your console machine, and hit enter when the >>> prompt
comes up on the console; the serial console takes over from the graphical
one. I believe there is a special setting in ARC to set console output,
but I don't know what it is offhand.
Once you get the kernel to boot the Linux TGA console driver takes
over and you can see again, but the cursor is "funky"...this is much worse
under ARC than under SRM for some reason. Hopefully this will be fixed
soon. You can get the latest console firmware from
Your drives will fit, but you won't have a bit of extra space.
Heat may be a problem.
Debian installs just fine with the disks from dists/sid; be sure
to grab the alpha-patched kernel sources from
ftp://gatekeeper.dec.com/pub/DEC/Linux-Alpha/Kernels or you might have a
hard time compiling a working kernel (and on the AS200, it takes a pretty
long time). The sources are patched from 2.0.34 at the moment.
The DEC ZLp video card is supported now by the TGA XFree driver in
sid, but the xf86config utility doesn't know it yet. You'll have to
create a generic one (i.e. don't select a specific device, and ask for the
Accel server) and then hack it up a bit by hand. Let me know and I'll
send my XF86Config file if you want it.
If you want to get IP masequerading to work, you'll need to make a
temporary one-line change in <linux/net-inet/ip_fw.h> and recompile
ipfwadm from the netbase sources. Once again, let me know and I can send
you the details.
I've had a lot of fun with my AS200; for the price it is an
excellent way to get started on the 64-bit platform. As you can probably
guess, I went through a lot of trouble before I got it to work correctly,
but I learned a lot in the process. Let me know if you need any more
On Wed, 12 Aug 1998, Jeff Noxon wrote:
> Next week I'll take delivery of an AlphaStation 200 4/233. I don't
> really know what to expect. I already ordered an extra 64MB of memory
> for it (I hope two true-parity 8x36-60's will work.) I have a pair of
> IBM fast/wide SCSI drives sitting around, and I'm hoping those will fit
> in the box, along with a Plextor 12Plex. I have an Adaptec 3940W for
> the wide SCSI drives.
> Any chance I'll get all this to work together? :)
> I've read all of the material I can find on AlphaLinux.
> Are the Debian/Alpha boot disks enough to bootstrap a system, or do I
> need to begin with RedHat or BLADE? Is it possible to install via NFS?
> Once I get everything running, I wouldn't mind testing or helping with
> the porting effort as time allows.
> Thanks in advance for any tips,
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